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Microsoft is stepping up its effort to clamp down on the Zeus botnet with the release of a new detection and removal tool.
The new Windows tool is aimed at getting rid of the Zeus botnet, known as Zbot, which is notorious for targeting banking and other financial institutions.
Zbot comes equipped with malware aimed at accessing bank accounts and stealing financial data. Over the past three years, the Zeus botnet made its name as a password-stealing Trojan designed to access accounts for banking and other Websites. Once it infiltrates a user's computer, the Trojan creates a backdoor that enables access to a user's system while disabling certain security software. It then turns the affected computer into a drone, which then further spreads the malware to other computers via an array of security attacks, including spam, drive-by-downloads and other malware that exploits vulnerabilities.
Microsoft said in a blog post Tuesday that while the banking malware is technically sophisticated, the distribution method is easy for hackers to deploy with automated toolkits.
Zbot infections started to emerge in April 2007, but began to skyrocket in December of 2009 and early 2010, reaching a height of more than than 200,000 in January, according to Microsoft.